What is meditation and what are the benefits of meditation?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jan Brand MNCS (Acc) Counsellor, Supervisor, Life, Business & Executive Coach
15th March, 2010
There are many types of meditation. It has been practiced for hundreds if not thousands of years. You can practice it alone or in a group, with or without guidance. Here are some of the most well known types of meditation:
Guided Meditation – You simply sit or lay comfortably in a quiet place with your eyes closed and listen to a guide or a tape who will help you visualise, for example gardens, some fountains and pools or the sea; or alternatively you may be taken on a visualised journey. This is an enjoyable and very relaxing experience. Towards the end your guide will gently bring you back to awareness of your surroundings.
Mindfulness Meditation – Sit preferably on the floor with your legs crossed for this meditation. Make sure you are comfortable. Close you eyes and observe your breathing, reminding yourself to relax. If thoughts enter you mind notice them and the gently let them go returning to your breathing. If an emotion arises, observe it, don’t dwell on it or label it as good or bad, just let it be and return your thoughts to your breathing.
Candle Meditation – You keep your eyes open and focus on a candle flame, gently drawing your thoughts back to the flame when they wander. Candle meditation can be very profound and deep.
Breathing Meditation – You sit comfortably in a quiet place with your eyes closed, allowing your hands to rest in your lap. Take some slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, emptying your lungs on the out breath. You then breathe normally whilst concentrating on your breathing, drawing your mind gently back to your breath when it wanders.
Walking Meditation – As the name implies you can do this meditation whilst walking. You take time to notice your body and how it feels, you relax the muscles in your face, shoulders and arms. Take a few deep breaths relaxing further as you exhale. Then begin walking, becoming aware of the movement of your body and your breath. Keep gently bringing your thoughts back if they wander.
Meditation takes practice, I recommend that most people start with guided meditation as this helps you to stick with it and learn the necessary skills. It is the quickest way to experience the wonderful benefits of meditation. Just thinks how your mind is working all day and every day, it also works at night when we are asleep. It is our ally as it helps us to work out problems and make decisions, but it can also be our enemy when it nags at us and worries us, raising our stress levels and heart rate, sometime unnecessarily.
Benefits - When we meditate our heart rate and breathing slow down. Blood pressure usually returns to normal and our immune system (which is adversely affected by stress) improves. Meditation helps you to sleep better, can lead to a more positive outlook on life and reduce our stress levels. Many athletes use meditation to focus on achieving their goals and to recover from injury. Business leaders use meditation to help them deal with pressure and make clear decisions. Meditation can benefit us all, none of us want to be stressed and we all want to be happy, healthy and relaxed.
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